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Chinese firm mulls P4-billion ethanol plant

MANILA, Philippines - The Wahaha Group Co. Ltd. of China is reportedly interested in investing about P4 billion for an ethanol plant in the Philippines aside from an earlier announced interest in a joint venture for a fruit juice processing plant, according to Mariz Agbon, president of the Philippine Agribusiness Development and Commercial Corp. (PADCC).

In an interview with newsmen, Agbon said that a Philippine delegation is set to go back to China next month to hopefully sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the Wahaha Group to formalize its joint agreement with Filipino AgriNurture Inc. (ANI) for the joint fruit juice processing plant and with a still unidentified “local family” for a possible P4-billion investment in an ethanol plant.

According to Agbon, “once the agreements are signed, the projects would build momentum since Wahaha has the relevant technologies already.”

The Wahaha Group, Agbon said, intends to build a bioethanol plant in Misamis Occidental in partnership with “a local family.”

The Wahaha Group, Agbon continued, would get feedstock from 15,000 hectares of sugarcane fields.

Wahaha’s plant would need an investment of about P4 billion, Agbon said, quoting industry standards.

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Agbon also revealed that the Wahaha Group is interested in buying mango puree from ANI, the first agribusiness company listed with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

“The initial shipment is about 20 metric tons,” Agbon said.

Board of Investments (BOI) managing head Elmer Hernandez had previously announced that Hangzhou-based Wahaha Group, a Chinese beverage manufacturer, is interested in doing business with Philippine companies on mango puree and sugarcane-fed ethanol production.

The Wahaha Group, according to Hernandez, is interested in a possible join venture  for a fruit juice processing plant in the Philippines, using Philippine fruit  puree, with the juice production intended for export to China.

The Wahaha Group, whose name reportedly signifies “laughing child” originated as a sales department of the Shangcheng District School in Hangzhou in 1987. In 1989, the Hangzhou Wahaha Nutritional Foods Factory was established.

The Wahaha Group now has about 70 subsidiaries and 40 manufacturing centers all over China, and  employs about 20,000 workers.

The Wahaha Group is 46 percent owned by the Shangcheng District Government.

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